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Nobel Peace Laureates Gather in Chicago

Nobel Peace Laureates Gather in Chicago

Published: May 2, 2012
Shan with a group of protesters, seated in the background.

Shan Cretin visits an ongoing protest against the city of Chicago's decision to close six mental health clinics.

Photo: AFSC / Mary Zerkel

Nobel Peace prize winners who gathered at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago shared personal stories and shared insights on how “one person can make a difference” to build a just and peaceful world.  True to that theme, AFSC’s Shan Cretin also visited an ongoing protest against the city’s decision to close six mental health clinics.

Shan and Ingeborg Breines, co-director of the International Peace Bureau, stopped by the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic at 63rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue to express their solidarity with activists.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel drew on the support of many Chicago businesses, foundations and educational institutions to present his vision of Chicago as a world-class city to the Nobel laureates," Cretin told The Huffington Post. "Yet the decision to close six community mental health centers withdraws much needed support from some of the most vulnerable citizens."

"Chicago is able to raise the funds to sponsor showcase events like the Nobel Laureate Summit or the upcoming NATO meeting," Cretin said. "I urge the mayor to be equally energetic in finding the funds to support the community mental health centers."

The visit at the protest capped three days of activities organized by the summit, including a kickoff speech by former President Jimmy Carter, a keynote address by former President Bill Clinton and an award presentation to actor Sean Penn for his ongoing humanitarian work in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Shan Cretin participated at a packed forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she and four other panelists recalled their own experiences along their journeys to Nobel Prize honors.  Shan spoke of the process of altering a mentality of violence to a mentality of peace, including making peace with and within oneself. “It’s not only what we do to others, but it’s what we do to ourselves,” she said, to a round of applause.

The Laureates kicked off the summit on April 23 with visits to public schools, engaging students in conversations about peace and human rights around the world. Shan visited Prosser Career Academy.

Clerk of the Board Arlene Kelly also represented AFSC at the summit. In 1947, AFSC and the British Friends Service Council accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of “Quakers everywhere.”

 Throughout the summit, Nobel laureates stressed the importance of youth getting involved in their communities, and have spoken on a variety of topics including climate change, nuclear weapons and women’s issues. Read the final declaration of the summit.